This morning I was at Mass in a little church in the heart of Rome. I think I was the only visitor to Rome present, all the others looked like regulars. After Mass I had coffee and caught the bus back to the religious community I am staying with, passing St. Peter’s on the way.
As the bus got closer to St Peter’s I noticed crowds of people moving towards the square. It was just before noon and I realised that they were on their way to pray the Angelus with the pope, so I got off the bus and joined the procession towards the square.
I arrived in the piazza just as the pope emerged at the window (top, second window from right), greeted the people, and gave his brief reflection on today’s gospel: “You are Peter, and on this rock…” The pope then had us all recite Peter’s profession of faith together, three times: “you are the Christ, the son of the living God”. The people gathered were enthusiastic in their profession.
The long white banner you can see in the picture has large wording (facing the pope) reminding him of the Rimini Meeting where I will head tomorrow for a few days.
As the pope spoke this morning I was distracted by the tall obelisk in the centre of the square. Two thousand years ago it stood not far from this spot in Nero’s circus which was the place where Christians were regularly put to death. We know that thirty years after his profession of faith Peter was martyred here, and this obelisk would have witnessed the event, and possibly been one of the last things that Peter saw before he was was put to death.